As the story goes, Tütüncü Mehmet Halis Efendi, who fled the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, arrived in Istanbul and first opened a small tobacco shop at Küçükpazar. As his business began to flourish, he founded a tobacco warehouse and factory in Cibali. Meeting the demands of the army’s tobacco needs with the factory he established in Cibali and recognized as “Serduhani” (chief tobacco merchant), Mehmet Efendi was forced to sell the Cibali Tobacco Factory to the Régie administration in exchange for 95 thousand gold following the founding of the Régie and the acquisition of all tobacco purchase, sale, production, and taxes by this administration.
According to archive records, in 1884, Sultan Abdülhamid II commissioned the building of Cibali Tobacco Factory to renowned architect Alexandre Vallaury on behalf of the Régie. The Tobacco and Cigarette Factory went into operation in 1884 first under French and later under Ottoman administration. Until its nationalization in 1925, it was run by the French and eventually became part of the newly established Turkish Republic. Designed much like a city, the factory compound encompassed security units, workshops, social facilities, a healthcare unit, a daycare, a fire brigade, and refectories. Continuing production under Tekel (Monopoly) administration until the 1990s and eventually left to its fate, the building itself was allocated to the use of Kadir Has University in 2001 and, following a successful restoration process crowned with the Europa Nostra Award, it began serving as the main campus of Kadir Has University in 2003.